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Compositional studies: Chardin in black and white

By September 6, 2012November 3rd, 2021Studies

Making compositional and value studies of masterworks helps you to train your eye to dissect them and analyze them.  In this first offering, i’m looking at the great 18th Century French master, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin.  Specifically, i’m looking at his still life work and below are eight of the quick studies i made.  Offered here to keep notes on things that i’m looking at.  Presently, I’m trying to vet an idea about still life painting.

Hallmarks of Chardin’s painting is the softness of the edges and a very tactile impasto.  I was fortunate enough to have been able to see the exceptional exhibition at the Met in 2000.  As i was working a few blocks away at the time, I was able to return a number of times.  Even acting as a dedicated “label reader” for the woefully sighted Lennart Anderson, noted Brooklyn contemporary realist painter.

These studies are just looking at balance and tone in the paintings.


Paintings reviewed spanned from 1726-35.  Early to mid-period paintings move from a sort of reliquary chiaroscuro to more brightly illuminated, even toned works.  In the samples given, the blacks have about equal weight to the high key light values.

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